StoryCorp! with Sophia

Last week, my 10-year-old friend, Sophia, visited us for a fun week together in San Francisco, and a birthday finale weekend. We tromped around town to places like the Exploratorium and House of Air. We took BART to the public library where we interviewed each other for StoryCorps. We noodled around in our pajamas and tried really really really hard to get to bed on time, but if we had to fail at something, we were happy it was that.

As we did a lot of stuff, there was a a lot of coming and going. Each time I put the key in the front gate, Sophia would chirp, “Turtle and Piplup!”

Turtle n Piplup arrow

We laughed that the names sounded like a cartoon or a puppet show. Seed planted, every time we saw the names, we’d spin off into imagining aloud the story that would be Turtle and Piplup–who the characters would be, how they live, how they met, who they meet, and the adventures they get up to. All week, as we walked to the taco joint or moseyed past City Hall or wandered in the library aisles, we’d see things that looked like they’d belong in the story.

Before long, Turtle was a turtle, Piplup was a jerboa, their pet was a branchless tree, named Nubby of course, who lived in the bathroom, and in the nubbles of Nubby lived Tubs, the baby quokka. By the end of the week in our heads, Turtle and Piplup had already had a talk show, traveled to the moon on a screw they’d found in a chair they dissembled, and had the coolest how’d-you-meet story that either of us had ever witnessed. The episodes kept spinning and spooling into more.

Turtle n Piplup pic


Nubby and Tubs pic


When mom came up for the birthday finale weekend, she had planned a party at The Children’s Creativity Museum. She had her eye on the claymation studio, where you could sculpt figures and make a claymation video out of them. All partygoers on deck, each of us made a character, many brand new to the Turtle and Piplup imagination landscape. And then Sophia orchestrated them all… Here’s to a happy 11th year steeped in creativity and imagination that goes on and on and on.



Here’s a picture of Daddy behind the scenes.

Daddy pilots the rocket


Coconut Kale Ambrosia

April 1, 2014

Idea Large

A delicious idea


Sometimes I have a really good idea. Sometimes I don’t know exactly how to finesse that idea so I ask my guides, or my inner oracle, as I’ve sometimes called the still place inside when everything outside it is swirling. As my 11-year-old friend told me last week on the third day of her house visit, “You check your inner oracle a lot.”

As it happens, I wanted to make a sweet kale salad, but there are only so many ways you can keep the integrity of kale while making it sweet without sweetener. So I started with one ingredient and from there asked my guides to one by one, show me the rest. The result: Coconut Kale Ambrosia. (FYI, the definition of “ambrosia” is “food of the gods.” Indeed.) By the by, this recipe is sugar-, gluten-, dairy-free and vegan. Kale ambrosia for the win!

Coconut Kale Ambrosia


2 bunches Lacinato Kale (also known as dinosaur kale and Tuscan kale)
Olive oil, Salt, Lemon Juice
1 Pear
1 Pluot or Plum, peeled if skin is too tough or tart (no offense to tough tarts)
Raw Pecan pieces, a generous handful
Coconut oil, melted to liquid
Ground Cardamom
Ground Nutmeg

Start with a kale salad base:
Wash and dry the kale, remove spines. Shred or chop into one-inch (or so) pieces. Smaller pieces are good, too, and give more focus to the fruit to come. In a bowl, add to the kale: olive oil (about a tablespoonful), salt (a couple of pinches) and lemon juice (about 1/2 a teaspoon). Mix well, cover and let sit for 10 minutes. The salt, o.o. and lemon juice breaks down the kale, softening the leaves and neutralizing the bitter flavor. After 10 minutes, taste the mixture. If it’s bitter, add a touch more salt and lemon juice. Be sure not to over-salt (we’re making a sweet salad). You don’t want to taste saltiness, rather neutralize the bitterness.

While the kale mixture is neutralizing, start on the fruit:
In a separate bowl, slice the pear and pluot/plum into bite-sized pieces. Peeling them will make for a sweeter flavor. Add coconut oil, 1 to 2 tablespoons, depending on how much dressing you like on your salads, and how much you love coconut flavor. You’re effectively making the salad dressing, so be generous, but balance the amount with the amount of your fruit mixture. Add a tiny pinch each of ground cardamom and ground nutmeg. Mix together. Add to kale mixture. Add handful of pecan pieces and mix all ingredients well. Serve.




They’re not tassels, exactly, but they twitch and glimmer to the same titillation. The shaking the yelling, dancing legs, short skirts, status. Sparkle and shine, all the shine you aspire to when you’re formless yet and self-less. Not selfless with giving, rather without your own self. Crammed, maybe, full of many other selves you try on or wish hard for, your make believe pony-riding self your songwriting self, your beautiful girl self, the one with the mother and the boy who loves her, that secret dream boy that doesn’t have a face or a name but has a very important spot in your, no not your heart but your soul. Your soul. He completes you. And if he doesn’t fit, whoever you wish he might be, if it’s not exactly a…him…that completes you, but a song sung by your crushing-hard pop star you want to be like, or your dad’s favorite folk singer, or the trail into the forest deep in the books you lose yourself into, if it’s those that say they are your soul, your very soul, then, yes, you are they are you are longing, longing for the swish and the twirl and the sound, dense and giving, of the pom poms making you rise like a beautiful, like a pony with wings, but better, like a Barbie, but alive, and loved, by every every every every one, every one. Loved. Without even trying. Without trying. Shake shake hustle shimmy shake.


I go on walks. Sometimes they’re the only thing between emotional health and crumbling. Not always. I’m not always fighting for sanity or joy–sometimes it’s all right there and vast in its everything. But every time I walk, no matter where the mood gauge points, I cross a bridge into vastness, and wonder why it took so long to get outside. Sometimes I take pictures while I’m out, and sometimes, I look at them later and hear a theme talking back at me. It makes the walk that much more magical, in its reverb.



La historia y el presente

Two worlds

5 unstoppable #2

Unstoppable #2


7 tiny living 375x500

Tiny livin


9 whee! 500x500



Wedding Couple

One year before this picture was taken, I was running around San Francisco buying jungle gear and getting vaccinated for a 6-week journey to South America.

Two years before this picture, I was saying no to that same trip, an invitation around the Atlantic on a ship of students studying and traveling for a semester. It was an opportunity I’d had my eye on for a decade, and it had finally floated my way. My dear friend Lisa called to say she’d be making her third voyage, this time as Dean of Students, Fall 2012, and she asked me to come. And this, this gypsy intellectual global adventure, touching four continents, crossing the equator twice and holding in one story the image of riding camels in the Morrocan desert and fishing for pirhana from the Amazon, was right up my alley. That and a ship full of friends I’d make along the way, if something else describes me better, I’d like to hear it.

But there was a hitch, as my grandma used to say, in my get-along.

I was already on a voyage. I’d just moved in with my man. I’d just left my city to live with him in his. I’d just admitted I had this kind of love and moved my life to believe it. On the phone with Lisa, stirring pasta for two over the stove, I came to the understanding that I can’t jump this ship. I’ve filled my life with travel and exploration and escape, but what I had yet to do was fall in love and mean it for life.

Curiously, several months later my commitment rewarded me. The opportunity to sail presented itself again, this time for five weeks instead of nearly four months, on the southern and final leg of the voyage. Stars aligned, love supported, and I made plans to meet the ship in Argentina in the coming fall.

Three years before this picture was taken, I was arriving “home” from a summer spree around the US and Canada on a concert tour bus. I say “home” in quotes because by the time summer finally delivered me to my Portland apartment–in October–I’d extend my trip to live in NYC for two months, and return to my hometown San Diego to see my grandmother for the last time, and help my dad pack her apartment of 33 years into a Uhaul headed east.

Some people are serial monogamists, trapeze-ing from one relationship to the next. My serial affairs are with geography. I was feeling rootless and spun, byproduct of a gypsy bender. That same week I got home, I adopted a kitten, and after adapting to a needy, gravity-immune, furry alien in my house, obliterating plants from my domain for the foreseeable future, I fell in love.

Four years before this picture, to the day in my personal culture calendar, I was skipping town to numb a fresh heartbreak. I lived in Portland and flew to San Francisco to visit friends, feel that old familiar singlehood, and not-know with even the merest of inklings that this date four years hence would find me living in San Francisco for love, and saying yes and thank-you and I-do-I-will-I-am to everything that came before and everything that follows.

Pema Teeter Rocker
October 5, 2013
San Francisco

Do Over Blog Tour New ButtonThis post is part of the Do-Over! Dare-well Blog Tour: 9 Do-Over Divas Dishing about Reinvention brought to you by Katie Grant of Plume: a handcrafted copy shoppe. Pushing restart takes some gumption. This tour will give you that and then some.   







The Many Faces of Marriage

August 23, 2013

Memoirs of A Geisha

See this face?

I almost named this post “Memoirs of a Geisha.” But before we slip down a rabbit hole, let me return to partnership, love, romance, and sweet plans.

I’m getting married

Married! We’re doing it in two parts, the first a tiny little thing I’ve called the stage fright wedding, with a miniscule cluster of loves holding space for the man and I to make it real. Stepping off the silly of “stage fright,” it’s also about the powerful feeling of making this move for ourselves. In a tiny ceremony, we can focus on each other. We can make it about the two of us making choices in each other, planning our lives more intently than the gathering.

Then the following summer, we’ll have the big wedding bash, with friends, and family from far away. We’ll have tasted what marriage is for the two of us, and then on that steady ground, post-beta, we’ll launch Wedding 2.0. Public vows, parties, cake and community. Celebration of not only what the man and I have done together, but in the arms and eyes and hearts of friends and family.

Fun prep + play

Leading up to our tiny start, I’ve been finding a dress, planning lodging and location, and doing fun things like heading to the makeup counter with a girlfriend to get my wedding makeup done. We started at a gorgeous, famous San Francisco bar, heard stories from afternoon regulars that reached into the way back of SF’s uber-fab socialite history. Then we slipped over to Sephora, where I sat under the lights, and layer by layer became the creation you see above. I’d open my eyes after a layer or two and wonder where the look was headed. My makeup artist had told us she liked to focus on a bride’s natural beauty and keep things neutral. I loved that idea. Neutral. Natural. My Style Statement is Sacred Natural, after all. At one point I opened my eyes and realized the train had run off the tracks. Makeup lesson learned: Neutral tones do not necessarily a natural bride make.

I came home and mugged for the man. We laughed and danced. I wiped off the brows and the foundation and unpeeled the eyelashes. Then, with still-fabulous eyes, we went out for neighborhood tacos.




My birthday street










Cake Ferocious delicious


(from Susan Miller’s Astrologyzone Premiere app)




Pedicure in the Amazon

July 3, 2013

Pedicure in the AmazonCan you help me tell the stories?

I want to tell you the stories of my time away in South America. But I’m stuck. There’s a lot to be stuck behind.

The setting: In fall-winter 2012, I spend eight weeks in six countries, three continents, two hemispheres and four climates.

There are gobsmacked moments, in which surreal becomes real. There are horrible, harrowing moments, in which all is questioned. There is home away from home, community-turned-family, small-world wonder across expanses of miles, and love. There are a crowd of images to share with you, and one lone brain through which they are bottle necked.

Ironic dilemma for a story coach

When my clients are stuck, I let curiosity do the work for us. I ask questions about moments I’d love to hear described, about relationships and the characters that make them up, and those nostalgia instigators: what-was-it-like-when…?

Please come play the game with me! If you’re curious about sailing past Cuba, traveling solo in Buenos Aires on 25 pesos, finding friends in the middle of the sea, and hearts broken by an ocean, please!…ask me questions in the comments below, drop a note in my Contact-Me form, or hit reply if you got this in your email, and send me a one-liner. The stories want out! They just need your lead.

To spark some seeds to get curious about, here’s a short list of images and moments that come to mind.

Speechless in the Amazon
Sea legs in Rio
Graves + egg shells: Beginnings + endings in B.A.
Back Story – How’d I get there
Trip Prep: How to set a voyage theme
Tango + Yoga
A yoga teacher’s tears
Tropical rain
Tall is her body
Dreaming at Sea
The long engagement
Wifi, waves and inner life
Blind in the subway
A post office in Uruguay
London winter tan
Presidential election at sea
The body’s language: Yoga in Spanish
Roommates and sisters
A world embrace

A story party for the page

In the Story Charming Parties I throw, we let ideas and images in the room spark the stories we tell that night. My plea for your curiosity is an experiment to uncork my autumn, and share, finally, the stories I’ve been wanting to tell you.

Some of the thought seeds I’ve listed are attached to concrete events. Others trigger ideas and moods more ambiguous. Tell me what draws your curiosity and I’ll tell you a story that grows from it. We’ll watch a story collage emerge to describe those weeks away as I and my cohort of 500 explored Earth as home.




Inspiration on Loan

June 7, 2013

As a way to find myself in the writing again, I’m taking Susannah Conway’s course, Blogging from the Heart. One might argue that finding yourself in the writing is not the point, that it is navel gazing and narcissistic, that effective writing is observation outside of you. But after having tried that out, I’ll argue back. Without yourself in the writing, where is the heart?

I ghost wrote a book once. For six months my client and I talked out the characters, the motivations, the message. But I didn’t have the story till I dug deep into my life and fastened our story to mine. There was the meaning the characters needed. There was the heartbeat. It was painful. I felt not at all like a ghost, my flesh and blood wrapping around the bones of this job. But it was enlivening, too. Something outside me was animated, finding life from my skin graft.

This morning was spent in 2009, reading my blog posts from that year, hoping to remember the feeling of writing for the sake of writing, saying things for the sake of being heard. How did I forget that skill so completely? New blog home a clean slate, I’ve been looking for a way in…and so today I return to draw inspiration from the mission statement of my beloved first blog, the one I started in 2007 for the sake of practicing writing in public, Park Bench Daily:


This is what one of the edgy kids in college said one day, as our writing was read aloud in class. Some of the work was lascivious, some of it was limp. But the most interesting stuff was bare. Revealed. Unapologetic. These pages may approximate art. They will more often observe. Hopefully, they will always be naked.
These years later, sounds like naked = heart in the writing.

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Green Light

Susannah says: I belong to the Blog When You Have Something To Say camp.

An assortment of years ago, I belonged to this camp, too, until I let my business eclipse my love of writing. It’s possible my longstanding fear of saying the wrong thing to the wrong people merely articulated itself into a business model—which, ironically, was built on giving authentic voice to business owners in their web text. Yet, while the business grew, attracting happy customers to authentic voices, my voice grew weak, withered, rallied to return, and finally disappeared.

And so I Had Nothing to Say. This was my new camp.

I read Susannah’s sentence again and realize I’m also part of my grandmother’s camp: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.

Herein, today, right now, I’m starting a new camp: SAY SOMETHING!

Where delight awaits

My business has a new job. It has its own blog. It runs on its own joy. And, here, on THIS page, my voice has a new playground. Here is where delight awaits.

And here is the mission to ever remind that this new blog is indeed a playground. From this point forward, I dedicate myself to Say Something! And…

To write on my blog like it’s the first time.

To write for the pure love of writing.

To enjoy the allure, the urge, the discovery, the execution of translating my thoughts and vision to the web–via writing, formatting, html, new media, new ideas, etc.

To write as a writer, as someone whose job every morning is that of writer.

To be seduced by and taken in by the pure sensual delight of creating. To blog for this reason. To let my blog be this and only this. More must first be this.

To tap into my worlds, inner and outer. To play in the parade of them. To articulate what I see, feel, hear, think, absorb and thereby transform something in myself in the articulation. AKA, to let my participation in the world and my sorting-out-of-what-I-see change me for good.

To let my voice be a call to like minds and spirits, a hearth around which to gather. And not be a shouted plea or wily invitation to buy from me please, read me please, aren’t I pretty please, won’t you please like me please, that’ll be 10¢ please.

To enact life as art, in this record of things, which is art.